Conquering the Quarter-Life Crisis

Orig. Published 2/20/2015

When I graduated from college in May 2014, I suffered from PGAS (post-graduate adjustment struggles). I had just given up a 2-year contract with a reputable non-profit for personal reasons, and I was not sure what do with my life. I fell into a quarter-life crisis. During the first few months of my post-undergrad life, I bemoaned my situation. I felt completely disappointed in myself for choosing a different path. I sank into a black abyss. Around month three a close friend of mine sent me this video from the brilliant Crystal Byrd (A Girl Who Loves Christ):

It was a great reality check! Ms. Byrd helped me take a step back, switch gears and refocus. With a few changes, I was able to land a couple of internships. Although neither produced an offer for a job, in the end they were very educational. Fast forward to month seven. I became more adjusted to life as a graduate. With the start of the new year, I decided to let go of some old and terrible habits.

Nine months, two internships, and hundreds of applications later I am still not conventionally employed (i.e. I am broke). However, I no longer feel as though I am failing because of it. I am grateful for this time to explore what makes me tick, where I want to be, what I want to do and who I want to be.

Kirk Franklin voice* “So, for those in the struggle who think God has forgotten about you…” I wanted to offer some advice on how to make it through this murky time in your life. Here are 5 key steps to dealing with your quarter-life crisis:

1. Don’t Panic: This simple, and very effective, advice was taken from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

2. Look on the Bright Side: There are many people in this world for one reason or another who are worse off than you. There are people who were not blessed to graduate from college — let alone have the opportunity to attend college. So, take a breath. You just accomplished something amazing! Relax a bit, because this may be the last break you have for a long time.

3. Stay Steady on Your Grind: Just because you are enjoying the first unstructured time in your life since you were born, does not mean you can slack off. Continue growing and learning — whether that means enrolling in an online course, taking up a hobby, getting a part-time job or creating a small business of your own. Do not let your life, and resume, become stale. You are a talented, interesting and complex person. Your degree should not wholly define you. Now is the time to explore who you are outside of the classroom.

4. Search for a Job, but Do Not Obsess: This is a very “Practice What You Preach” moment for me, because all I did was obsess about finding a job for the first seven months of post-grad life. All it did was make me stressed and deeply unhappy. I found that my obsession with employment had less to do with my well-being and happiness, and everything to do with what I thought I should be doing based off of those around me. That brings me to my next point…

5. Don’t Compare, PREPARE: Okay, you don’t have a job at a big-name company, a fellowship somewhere, or an acceptance letter from a fancy graduate school like your friends, family or followers. So, what? You cannot live your life in relation to others. Everyone’s path is different. Everyone’s choices are different. Do not compare yourself to them or anyone else! You do not know what they had to do to get there. Instead, take this time to prepare for your purpose. Read, study, connect and grind. Practice makes perfect. If you want to be a writer, then write. If you want to go into advertising, study great ads! Read as much industry news as you can. Do not be afraid to reach out to those in your future field of work. They are usually open to having informational interviews.

Whatever you do, DO NOT become this guy…

*I recognize that these tips may not be practical for everyone going through PGAS, especially if you have not found gainful employment or have an awesome support system. Still, I hope that this will give you a framework on how to move forward from college-life.

Dedicated to those closest to me, particularly my family. Thank for the love and support!